The Army and Marine Corps’ top uniformed leaders both backed making women register for the draft as all combat roles are opened to them in coming months, a sweeping social change that could complicate the military’s gender integration plans.
Both services, along with the Navy, have begun work to open all military jobs to any service member after a decision by Defense Secretary Ash Carter in December to lift all gender-based restrictions on combat and infantry roles.
On Tuesday, Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley and Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Robert Neller told senators during a Capitol Hill hearing that full integration of those jobs will likely take a few years, to overcome logistical and cultural issues.
One of those complications will be how to handle the Selective Service System, which requires all men ages 18 to 26 to register for possible involuntary military service.
Women have always been exempt, and past legal challenges have pointed to the battlefield restrictions placed on them. With that reasoning moot, lawmakers will need to determine what becomes of the system.
Navy Secretary Ray Mabus Jr. said there needs to be “a national debate” over what the changes mean, balancing social concerns over the idea of drafting women with the reality of national security and military readiness.
But the uniform leaders were more blunt in their assessment (continue reading)